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Top Pantry Pests and How to Get Rid of Them

Did you find bugs in your flour? Are your whole-grain products infested? We know that seeing either of these or other similar things can drive you up the wall, especially when there seems to be no explanation for what is taking place. Your pantry is supposed to be a safe place for your food. So, has its safety now been compromised? Is it that your pantry is not as clean as you thought?

Before we begin though, we want to reassure you that it often has nothing to do with how clean the area is. Even those who ensure that they do cleaning way more often the normal can’t escape these bugs if the right conditions are present.

You’re likely to see one of four different pantry pests at any time. Don’t get us wrong, as there are others, but these three are the top offenders that you’re likely going to have to worry about. Without any further ado, why don’t we dive in?

Flour Weevil

We’ll get things started with the flour weevil. The naming convention is a bit weird here since this bug is not a true weevil. While it’s called this, the real insect is typically either a confused flour beetle or red flour beetle.

These flour bugs have an oval shape and a metallic hue. They are identifiable by their reddish-brown color, and they are no longer than 4 millimeters long. As is the case with many other beetle variants, these bugs have a pitted thorax area. If you focus on the forewings (which is probably not the first thing you were thinking of doing when they’re crawling around in your food), you are likely to see vertical grooves.

The beetles infest flour and items made from it. Whole grain products are safe from them since they can’t feed on such things.

You can usually tell that an infestation is present when you see the adults moving around or dead on the food items. They can fly and are likely to do so around lights when attracted to them. Larvae are often also a part of the mix. Sometimes, infested products even have an off-putting odor.

Discard infested products and clean shelves where the bugs appeared. For preventative measures, remove foods such as cereal, flour, and pasta from their cardboard box or paper packaging and store them in tight-fitting containers. Avoid purchasing broken or damaged packages. Don’t keep all foods too long, and remember to use them before the new ones. Any storage units you use should be kept dry.

Other methods of getting rid of these pests include pantry traps, crack and crevice sprays, and other pesticides.

Rice Weevil

The rice weevil has a dark brown color and may have light color patches on its wing covers. They’re internal feeders, and their larvae thrive in whole grain kernels. Females make small holes into the kernels, after which they insert a single egg. The hole is sealed, and the action is repeated as much as 400 times on different grains. Half of these eggs are unlikely to hatch.

Expect to find these bugs in whole grain items, such as barley, rice, corn, and wheat. They are even known sometimes to attack old spaghetti and macaroni. Their appetites are quite impressive, with some even taking on nuts, cereal, beans, and even pear or apple juice.

While they can be found just about anywhere, the rice weevil is more prevalent in southern states.

You’re going to need to take a few steps to establish some semblance of control over these pests. Begin by inspecting your whole grain products, old pasta items, nuts, and even birdseed. If you have decorative items, such as shadow boxes with seeds or Indian corn, it’s in your best interest to check them as well.

Get rid of the infested food items by throwing them outdoors. The same applies to anything decorative. If you suspect and food is infested but it’s not confirmed, freeze it for six days at zero degrees Fahrenheit.

As far as preventative measures go, storing potential target foods in a container with a tight lid is advised. Cereals and the like may be stored in the refrigerator. Again, remember to consume the older products before purchasing new ones, as age contributes to the likelihood of infestation.

Indian Meal Moth

The Indian meal moth is often called the pantry moth, and many regard it as the most annoying food pest in the United States. Their dietary preferences are diverse and include dried milk, nuts, birdseed, pet foods, dried fruits, whole grains, and cereal products.

The larvae damage foods with the silken threads that they spin during regular movement. These web the food particles together. Adults have a pale gray color and a 5/8-inch wingspan. Their outer forewings have a coppery are reddish-brown color, which makes them easy to distinguish.

Inspect your food items before you purchase them. You can look for either small holes in the packages or webbing. Tightly sealed containers are also recommended here for potential target foods. Discard anything that is actively invested. Additionally, don’t wait for too clean food spills.

In terms of corrective methods, you can opt for pantry straps, the release of Trichogramma wasps, or using compounds, such as diatomaceous earth and botanical insecticides.

Flour Mites

The flour mite is the final offender, and it attacks cereals, dried vegetable materials, corn, dried fruits, and cheese. When infestations get severe, items display “mite dust.” This comes from the light brown color of the mites’ legs. The insects are pearly, pale, are grayish-white. Like other mites, they’re soft-bodied, smooth, and wingless.

Contaminated products are usually the reason for their presence. That’s why they tend to attack the germ or any mold that may be growing on the grain. With a lot of mites present, you should also notice a foul order. Note that if exposed to the insects, you can develop “grocers itch.”

The best way to deal with these bugs is via prevention. Remove old grain products and clean spills up promptly. Proper bin sanitation is essential, and you want to check them regularly for mite presence. Discard any infested food items, and apply approved insecticides as needed.

You May Need Professional Help

If the infestation is too severe, you may find that the DIY methods are not enough. Flour mites, for example, are particularly resistant creatures. In such cases, fumigation is likely necessary.

If you’re looking for the right team to handle the issue for you, Synergy² is here to help. We provide trusted services throughout the area, so contact us for the best pest control services around.

Feel free to read more about us and decide if Synergy² is the right company for you.  We have over 270 Five-Star Google reviews for pest control service in the Jackson metro area (Jackson/Madison/Brandon/Ridgeland). Check out our newest location reviews for pest control service in Jackson, MS here at Synergy² Jackson Pest Control!
Barry Pitts, Synergy² Owner

Barry Pitts, Synergy² Owner

Pharmacist and Synergy² Pest owner, Barry Pitts, is a long-time Madison, MS resident with a passion for applying advanced scientific pest principles to pest control services in the Jackson metro area.  Combining exceptional customer service with cutting-edge pest control technology allows Synergy² to provide residents of the Jackson metro area with the highest levels of pest control available today.

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